Read BC’s review:
It’s incredibly odd writing a review for a film that’s premise focuses on a chef’s revenge on a food critic blogger for destroying his career. Is director Joe Maggio attempting to say something about my career path or is he just tuning in on a potentially relevant social issue? That’s the crux of BITTER FEAST, an unfocused, yet moderately entertaining thriller that premiered at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival.
BITTER FEAST follows sous-chef/TV personality Peter Gray (James LeGros) who’s career tanks between his sh*tty onscreen attitude and a harsh review by blog food critic JT Franks (Joshua Leonard). Gray exacts his revenge by kidnapping Franks and torturing in an attempt to enlighten him on how difficult his job really is. Gray wants Franks to see the other side of the fence so he can truly appreciate the works he is reviewing, instead of violently destroying (with words) people’s hard work.
Problem A: Gray doesn’t intend on letting Franks survive. Since Gray wants to kill Franks, the lesson he’s trying to teach becomes obsolete.
Problem B: Peter Gray is a Grade A piece of sh*t. He’s arrogant, rude, and impossible to work with. He can’t be the protagonist, which means Franks must be, right?
Problem C: JT Franks is a Grade B piece of sh*t. He’s a bitter, angry individual who writes incredibly harsh reviews for absolutely no reason, right? The food is actually good, but he’s just mean, grrrrrrr – or does the food actually not live up to his standard? Maybe it’s just in the eye of the beholder? Nope. He’s a jerk, and he should die. But wait; apparently Franks lost his son in a bout to leukemia. Now the audience is all of a sudden supposed to connect with him and pray for his escape? I don’t think so.
Problem D: The prior leads me to my main point; there’s no protagonist. Both lead characters are douche bags that deserve everything they get. There’s no one to root for and no one to care about… until….
Problem E: All of a sudden Franks’ wife Katherine (Amy Seimetz) becomes the lead character. The only development her character has is that she talks with JT about the leukemia and the angry writing. Then all of a sudden she’s thrust to the forefront of the pic and the viewer is expected to care.
BITTER FEAST is more of a potluck than a delicious stew. There’s an intense lack of focus and it’s impossible to decipher what Maggio is trying to say. It’s also becoming lazy and incredibly trite to make the critic a villain. What would have been interesting is if JT was correct about Gray’s loss of focus, pointing out that Gray actually had lost his game. Gray in turn couldn’t accept this and loses it. Then the audience could have sat back and cheered on Mr. JT Franks.
It’s a fun movie — I just didn’t feel any connection to the characters.
Although incredibly problematic in its ingredients, BITTER FEAST is still somewhat edible. There are some fantastic sequences sprinkled with intensity. The games Gray play with JT are enthralling and definitely engaging. While you don’t really have anyone to root for, it is fun to watch just to see how it plays out. If you don’t care who “wins”, BITTER FEAST is still an enjoyable snack.